Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Love You More Than Most.....I Win!

There are moments in our day when the big sprouts forget that they are supposed to hate each other.  They are siblings, after all, and they have the same rivalry as any other set of brother and sister.  It is the smallest sprout, these days, who offers the balanced reminder that there can be fun in getting along.

I can hardly believe that we nearly decided against bringing that third voice to the table. We had thought about whether the first two sprouts were enough...and believe me, at times they are more than enough...but I am forever grateful that God blessed us with the third wheel to our tricycle.  She keeps all of us young, playing those games that the older two would likely have already abandoned.  Running through the sprinklers with her still, they become the younger version of themselves...the brother and sister who used to like each other and play endlessly together.

It is Little Sprout's game. 
The one that starts, "I love you!"
To which you are to respond, "I love you too!". 
Her line is then, "I love you more!"
Your reply, "I love you most!"
and she finishes the dialogue with, "I love you more than most!  I win!"

I am not surprised that her game has an element of competition...something she has learned well living in this house.  But the important key to winning her game is that you have to be the one to start.  You have to say, "I love you" first, or you don't win.  The bigger sprouts could learn a lot from the wisdom of the littlest.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Watch Out Tooth Fairy!!! I Think It's a Setup!

I have to write this quickly, because I fear I may be discovered.  I wanted to get out a warning to you, Tooth Fairy, about an insidious plan. 

You may know my visit her often.  You came to see her twice this week, in fact.  Anyway, she has been saving that third tooth the dentist pulled so she can put it under her pillow at  her upcoming slumber party.  I KNOW!!  It has to be a trap.  It is the only feasible explanation. I wanted to get the word out to you, and since I don't have a fairy hotline to call...I thought I would try the internet.  You're online, right?!? 

Anyway,  heads up! You WILL be called to our house next week.  The girls will be on the lookout for you, and you'll have more bodies and pillows to navigate.  Put on extra fairy dust so you can remain undetected.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  You thought that last tooth you hauled out of here was big...this one is a monster.  It is likely the BIGGEST baby tooth I have ever seen.  You may need to bring in some help.

Good luck tooth fairy!  I'll be pulling for you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's the Matter? Wednesday

At the end of a long day on the Magnificent Mile, Littlest Sprout wanted nothing to do with our photo shoot in front of the Hershey sign.  She shares with all of you her unbridled emotions.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Confessions of a Cat Fight

Littlest Sprout proudly walked up to me yesterday saying, "Mom, Big Sprout slapped Middle Sprout on the bus."

"WHAT?!?" I stopped passing the soccer ball with Big Sprout.  "You hit her on the bus?"

"Yeah, like five times," Middle Sprout reported from behind me.

I spun, "WHAT?" turning back, "What does she mean you slapped her five times on the bus? Why?"

"She hit me first! And then she grabbed my face with her fingers and squeezed."  A frustrated move that I too have witnessed.

"Hold on a second...both of you inside, NOW!  We have to settle this!" I authoritatively demanded.

I took all three sprouts in and sat them on the couch.

Littlest Sprout delightedly asked, "Me too!" 

"If you want to, but you don't have to, you're not in trouble." I explained.

They never confessed the motivation behind the cat fight, but I could only picture them sitting on the bus waving their hands at each other occasionally landing slap blows. 

"Didn't the bus driver stop you?" I asked concerned.

"She couldn't see us," Middle Sprout reported.

My internal picture of this scene almost made me laugh out loud.  I know it wasn't a knock-down-drag-out fight, and I can only imagine what it might have looked like to a driver passing by who caught a glimpse of Frank Fighting 2010.  A couple hesitant arms flailing at each other with only the tops of very young heads barely visible.

"Did any one see you?"

They admitted that one of Big Sprout's friends was the only witness. 

Just then, the phone rang, and the kids thought they had been saved by the bell.

It was their father, and they each spoke to him, not about the incident, but about the other news of the day. Big Sprout answered the phone, so while he was talking to his dad, I asked Little Sprout what she thought a fair punishment would be for Big Sprout. 

"He should lose his iPod," she offered. 

As he spoke to Middle Sprout I asked Big Sprout what he thought a fair punishment would be, and he thought grounding from electronics for two days would be fair.

The phone was eventually passed to me, and as I reported the ongoing trial, Middle Sprout dove in under a blanket and Big Sprout did not move.

"Big Sprout thinks they should be grounded for two days," I explained.

"Two days?" he chuckled, "I was thinking one.  Siblings fight, and it couldn't have been that bad," he assessed.

"I agree," I said, shifting to code-talking mode, "but they know the severity, and this is a self-reported crime.  I'm going to defer to their self-punishment."

"True," he agreed.  "They represent this family, and they can't be least not in public."

Sentence determined.

So, I went from having absolutely no inkling that anything bad had happened, and in less than ten minutes both big sprouts were grounded from electronics for two days.  I didn't have to deal with the actual fight, they each took responsibility for their involvement in the altercation, and they accepted the punishment willingly.  Maybe parenting is actually happening in this house!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Technology...The New Gated Community

"We live in a gated community," the up-and-coming couple reports.

"Congratulations!" I say,  reacting the only way I know how.

Living by stereotypes...I know what this means.  They have arrived. They have accumulated the resources to live in an expensive house with at least a gate for a guard at the entrance of the neighborhood.  I suppose I could be wrong, and the gate could be surrounding the local mobile-home park, but I doubt it.  The gated communities that I know have large houses, plush yards, evidence of workers (i.e. gardeners and housekeepers) and name-brand cars rolling in and out of the garages.  It's a lovely place to call home.  There is a sense of security with that gate, keeping in all that is precious and keeping out all that is unwanted.

My husband and I are slowly accumulating resources... (children seem to suck out faster than we can put in) but I don't know that we'll ever be in the tax-bracket that would allow us to live in one of those gated communities.  That's okay.  We'll find a way to live comfortably and we'll continue to provide what opportunities we can for our children.  I am anxious, though.  There is another gated community being built.  It's a community to which  I sense my children need to belong, and I don't want to be on the outside looking in.

The pace with which technology is exploding is mind-boggling.  I grew up playing PONG on Atari, and my oldest just saved up his money to buy himself an Ipod touch.  The capabilities of his new hand-held device far outweigh the things our first desktop computer could do.  The advances in smart technology are overwhelming at times.

We spent last Saturday roaming around downtown Chicago and we wandered in to the Apple Store.  It was an experience worth having.  The store itself is beautiful, and the access to their machines is impressive.  There were nearly 100 Ipads laying around on tables so that people could experiment with them and see what they could do.  I instantly wanted one.  They are beyond cool.

When we left the store and continued down the Michigan Avenue sidewalks, it struck me, as I avoided eye contact with the begging homeless,  that except for the access available in that store, there is a segment of the population who will never own something like an Ipad.  The percentage of people around the world who will never know what it is to touch a screen and watch it pop to life is too small to fathom. Technology-savvy people are starting to have their own sub-culture and language and life experiences.  Some people in the world will never know any of that.

I recognize the blessings I have been afforded simply because I was born in a country that has the opportunities we do.  I have worked hard to be admitted into the technology gated community, and barring any disaster, I plan to stay there, but I can't help thinking about the faces on the other side of the gate...the longing faces who want nothing more than a chance to come inside.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How to care for a baby...Sprout Style

Out of the blue tonight, Big Sprout piped up from the backseat.

"You know, mom, I think every family should have a baby that stays a baby.  You know, like, it never grows up, and it just stays cute."

Chuckling through my response, "Oh really, you think so.  You do know, honey, that babies are a lot of work."

"Oh, I know that, but I know the baby basics," he smugly replies.

"I see.  That's interesting," I drive on.  "I am curious though...what do you think the baby basics are?"

"Oh, you know.  You have to feed them and then you have to decide the right time to put them to sleep..."

"Wait, wait, you need to write these down for me," I say as I frantically search for a piece of paper. (I wish I didn't feel like I was always frantically searching for a piece of paper) "I want a copy of this," still rummaging,  "but I'm driving."  I hand back a folded piece of paper and a pen.  The following is the scribbled list of "How to Care for a Baby" by Big Sprout. (I am transcribing exactly the way he has it written)

1. feed
2. right time to sleep
3. help them burp
4. Ki says if you play hockey with the baby you have to take it easy
5. change diper
6. stress
7. play
8. LOVE!!!

I guess he does indeed have the least on paper.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Life is Messy

My house is messy.  My children struggle to get all the food that sits on the end of an eating utensil actually into their mouths.  We don't have a dog, so what falls off the fork, falls to the floor and stays there until someone sweeps it up.  They create dishes and dirty clothes.  They accumulate stuff and conspire with each other to make sure that each room has some random article haphazardly thrown on the floor. 

We get it cleaned up.  They help me, and with the three of them at an age where they can competently, I mean effectively...well, they get it cleaned up, it is only as bad as I let myself think it is.  When our oldest was the only baby in the house, I would follow him around and literally put the toys back in the toy box as soon as he dropped it and crawled on.  With the addition of each kid, I realized that I was trying to hold back water equivalent to a tsunami.  I gave up the perfectly clean house idea.

Similarly, I didn't fight the sparrows this year.  Every summer that we have lived in this house I have waged a backyard war against the sparrows who like to build nests under our deck.  They would carry in mud, I would smack it down, they would carry in more mud, I would smack it down.  I would walk through the back yard with my smacking stick and they would dive bomb me to let me know that I sucked.  I would win, and the birds would abandon our deck...all in the name of keeping it clean.  I'm not sure why I'm going soft, but I let the birds in this year.

There is one sparrow's nest and two other nests that likely belong to some of the robins who hang around.  It's messy.  They aren't always accurate in the nest building, and I did have to sweep some of the mud off of the patio. What I had unknowingly prevented in previous years, though, was an aerial show that not only captivates Little Sprout, but I too find myself sitting under the deck, fascinated by the comings and goings of our new house guests.  Little Sprout is the one who took these pictures, and because she was using my camera, I couldn't capture the way she tiptoed around the patio, startled each time a bird would poke out of the nest and then swoop down past her.  She was so excited.

There are other messy things outside. Planting flowers and collecting what they and the trees shed is messy business.  I've concluded anything that has life leaves behind a mess to be cleaned.  Don't get me wrong, I look forward to the days when I can confidently update our house, paint the walls and outfit the floor because I know that the children are less careless as they carry their things through the hall.  I know my house will be clean and beautiful again some day.  I'll be sad that it is no longer messy.  I may just keep a box of random things and occasionally spread them out on the floor, because I know when it looks like that, our house is full of life.  I'll miss that when it's gone.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Little Fishy Tale

It reminded me of a tale I know...with an old man and the sea
A young boy cast his fishing line to see what he could be.
From the dock he threw a cast, determined to reel one in.
He felt a tug of the smallest sort, and that's where our story begins.

He felt that pull and he pulled back, and in the bobber came.
He pulled his catch up to his hands...he had won the fishy game.
It was much smaller than he had hoped, but, hey, his hook had set.
Plus then his cousin reminded him, "That fish can be your pet!"